Before going into today’s topic, I want to encourage you all to shop locally whenever possible. By doing so, you are keeping money in your community, and helping small business in America, which could use all the help they can get. When local businesses stay in business, it keeps downtown areas from developing blight, and maintains a sense of community where you live. This is true if you live in a small towns or a large city. If you have to shop at chains, franchises are better, as more of the money stays locally. If you have to shop online, take an extra moment and see if you can find a local business before going to a nation-wide website. There’s no doubt that shopping at chains saves you money, but when you think big-picture, it’s at the expense of your community. For a great recourse for independently owned stores, especially bookstores, take a look at indiebound.org. If you can buy American-made to boot, you win a prize.
That being said, last Friday Flick and I drove to Paramus, NJ to shop at Ikea and The Container Store. We don’t have either in the Hudson Valley, and they both sell things that you can’t find anywhere around here. Flick had never been to either store in her entire life, so I wanted to show her some things that I knew from my unique perspective of growing up in New Jersey. I will do penance by doing the rest of my Christmas shopping locally.
Because money’s tight, and I’ve got that whole independent soapbox thing going, I was trying to only purchase unique and inexpensive presents for other people. The Container Store must have heard me coming, because they had an entire section devoted to under $20 stocking stuffers, and much of it was pretty darn practical. Then I saw one thing that I knew I must have:
It’s a portable cereal container! For only $5, I now have a way to bring cereal to work that doesn’t require either keeping a box of milk in the work refrigerator or using a water bottle for milk portage. The bottom part holds freezing gel, so your milk stays cold, and the top part holds your cereal, and a spoon is attached to the lid! Also, the bowl holds exactly a cup of cereal, which really helps with the portion-control diet I’ve been sporting. (A cup of cereal is much more depressing looking in my ginormous cereal bowls at home.)
Yesterday, I made special arrangements to have to eat breakfast at my desk so I could try it out. Wonderful. There was only one small problem, and it’s that the freezing gel worked a little too well, and it made my rice milk a little icy. The problem was solved by some gentle stirring.
Oh yes, I drink rice milk. This brand to be exact:
Even before I learned that meat is murder I always hated milk. I thought it was some kind of punishment that we had to drink it in school. For years I made cereal with the smallest amount of milk possible to get the flakes wet, and eventually I just started eating pop-tarts.
But then I became an adult, responsible for my own food shopping. And I experimented with soy milk, which was better, but always left a sort of filmy taste in my mouth. (It still does.) But rice milk, man, that stuff rocks. I know it’s slightly less healthy than other non-milk milks, but I get the fortified kind, and it rocks my world. I even use it in baking, specifically the Banana Nut Miffins with Oatmeal Streusel that I made last night.
And with my rice milk, I ate Good Friends. That is not as wrong as it sounds:
Those are some happy cereal box people. I bet they never fight over who’s getting more fiber, and they call each other in the morning to coordinate outfits for their cereal eating before heading out to shoot a Benetton ad.
When I’m not eating Good Friends, I’m eating Heart to Heart, but the box isn’t as adorable.
And I’m not saying that Good Friends needs any help in being delicious, but sometimes it’s fun to add food to your food, and that’s where this lady comes in:
Yup, I love to top my cereal with raisins. They are so good for you. I even heard somewhere that they help whiten teeth, but I make sure to drink enough coffee after my breakfast so that no one will mistake me for a white-toothed freak.
And that’s what’s rocking my world this week. Breakfast foods. Next week: lunches?